ABOUT ALICE ALICE
“By the end of June 2018 we’ll have about 60km of formalised trails. And in the next year we’ll do more upgrades on the east side of town. That will be an extra 25km of singletrack fully signposted and brought up to an IMBA standard.”
Currently events are a drawcard for mountain bikers to Alice Springs, and the trails really suit the intermediate level cross-country riders who visit. But Marty explained that they’re working to expand the variety of trails on offer.
“It was very clear from early on that the trail network here is very much a cross-country trail network. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. We’re trying to diversify that a bit, with better quality green beginner trails and some higher level black diamond trails. To the extent that the terrain allows it we want to get some more all-mountain style of riding.” But what does that look like exactly? Alice Springs isn’t flat, but we can’t imagine trails being carved into the Western MacDonnell ranges. Marty explains it will involve using more of the rock features that trails often carve around. Additionally, it’s about putting in trails that are also easier for casual riders.
“There’s a few trails out there that have steep rock chutes. It might be adding A and B lines in to parts of the existing network, but in that final 80km trail we’d like to have about 10km of green trail and 20km of black diamond trail to increase the diversity. There are a lot of people who come to town who are looking for something more leisurely. So it’s really important that we get some entry level trails setup.”
Having trails that suit a broader variety of riders is so important for a tourist town like Alice Springs. While we love the idea of more advanced trails being added to the already super-fun trails on the ground, having trails to just chill on, or something you can roll out on with kids or significant others who don’t ride much is a perfect addition. But there’s more.
A $12 million dollar Red Centre Adventure Ride has been earmarked in that same master plan for the Territory, and so far there has been mixed feedback, with reports that it will cost $50 a day to ride the trails. Marty is quick to point out that a fee isn’t formalised yet, but also what the trail will entail.
“It will be approximately 200km from Alice Springs to Glen Helen, west of Alice. It basically parallels the Larapinta Walking Trail. From Glen Helen the idea is there are two loops. One out to Ormiston Gorge, and one out to Redbank Gorge.”
So instead of being a massive trail centre around Alice, which is already there and free to ride, this new project will be a long distance trail, modelled off muli-day walking routes in Tasmania and other places, with well-designed eco friendly camping and lodging options.
“The idea is that each day would be 50-60km ride, and you have designated camp sites with a range of high quality camping options for selfcontained travellers, plus options for outfitters to setup something for riders right up to luxe style glamping options,” explains Marty. The trails would all beginner style, so they might suit someone riding it fast and light, or retirees out for a soft adventure. “It’s very much geared for entry level tourists.”
The fee would likely be absorbed into the cost of a guided tour by the people you’re paying to cart your gear, and cook for you. This isn’t a trail development for a razz after work – this is an experience to take you into the great nothing of Central Australia. And any fee will go towards the immense infrastructure costs of getting power and water to campsites.
“It’s going to be pretty challenging making sure the trail and infrastructure is culturally and environmentally sensitive. But the exact opening date needs to be finalised. The intention is to have it finished by the end of 2019.” But that’s not the end of it. Marty assures us there are plans for more shared use trails around Katherine Gorge, and opening up walking trails to mountain biking. There’s even talk of opening up waterholes for mountain bike access up around Litchfield, and further developments in Darwin.